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FLEXIBLE THIN-FILM BATTERIES: A GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY, INDUSTRY AND MARKET ANALYSIS
Publish Date: May 2007,   Pages: 93,   Report Code: ET-104
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Flexible thin-film batteries are ideally suited for a variety of applications where small power sources are needed. They can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes, as required by the customer. By using the available space within a device, the battery can provide the required power while occupying otherwise wasted space and adding negligible mass.

The thin-paper battery is suitable for applications requiring low-voltage power (1.5V - 3.0V) where traditional button cell batteries are problematic to use. Such thin-film batteries or power paper will work exactly like traditional batteries, but will be nearly as thin as a piece of paper. A power-paper cell can generate 1.5 volts of electricity, which is approximately the same output as that of a watch or calculator battery. A power-paper cell will be 0.5 millimeters thick, and several cells can be used in combination to provide more power.

Thin-film batteries have solid lithium cores rather than liquid cores, so they are less vulnerable to overheating and catching fire. They lose virtually no power over time, and can be recharged thousands of times before they need to be replaced.

The thin-film industry is developing miniaturized versions of this technology. A thin-film battery can be smaller than a postage stamp and twice its thickness, can be manufactured in various shapes, and can be attached directly to a computer chip.

Power-paper batteries are printed directly onto thin substrates such as paper, so they are far more flexible than any other batteries. As a consequence of their ultrathin profile, low thermal mass, and their ability to operate in harsh environments, thin-film batteries are uniquely suited as power sources for wireless semiconductors processing diagnostic wafers, wireless imbedded sensors, active radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, non-volatile memory backup and implantable medical devices. The batteries are rechargeable, which means their size need be no larger than required to satisfy the energy requirements on a single cycle, thus reducing cost and weight, which in itself may give birth to new applications. The thin-paper battery is suitable for applications requiring low-voltage power (1.5V - 3.0V) where traditional button-cell batteries are problematic to use.

Small-scale power systems will enhance innumerable new and existing wireless devices. Uses will run the gamut, augmenting cell phones, laptop computers, communicating cameras and new applications. Thin-film batteries seamlessly integrated into the objects they power will mirror other integrated circuits on the miniaturization curve, as power itself becomes a component subject to Moores Law. Vertical and lateral buildouts in the industry will swell, flooding the marketplace with myriad useful new gadgets and peripherals. The result: all these advancements will provide the breakthroughs needed to put power wherever we want it, in whatever form factor we can imagine. Power will be lightweight, fully mobile, inexpensive and easily pervasive.

STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES

The thin-film battery power systems differ from regular rechargeable micro-batteries used in notebooks, PDAs and mobile phones that are available in prismatic, cylindrical and button forms. Commercially, low-profile micro-battery buttons have thicknesses ranging from 0.9 mm to 2.1 mm, as against flexible thin-film batteries of thicknesses below 0.6 mm. Thin-film cells can be stored for decades yet retain almost all their charge, developers say, and they deliver powerful bursts of energy when finally needed. In many applications, they also can be actively used for decades, since they can be charged and discharged tens of thousands of times. To date, small-scale power supplies have been the missing link in the information revolution, a significant obstacle to the ubiquitous computing aware environments, and smart machines that have been heralded as the next big wave of silicon intelligence.

Within the decade, however, all this will change. As the microdevice market grows, new innovations will redefine the personal uses of power. The individual will be free from household and workplace power grids, relying --when desired -- on personal (and personalized) mobile power systems. Connectivity, communication and knowledge management will be forever changed.

Therefore, this study focuses on thin-film batteries (thicknesses below 0.6 mm) that can be used in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microrobots and microsensors, and can also be printed on integrated circuits (ICs) like any other electronic components.

Production will be low-cost and high-volume. These batteries can be manufactured in any size, shape, voltage, or power capacity needed. Thin-film batteries (TFB) are positioned to become the next generation of lithium batteries for portable electronic applications. Major applications include smart cards and smart tags, single-use health and medical devices, and multimedia enhancements for entertainment items, novelties and packaging.

The iRAP study focuses on thin-film batteries and products, providing market data about the size and growth of the thin-film battery applications segments and new developments, including a detailed patent analysis, company profiles and industry trends. Another goal of this report is to provide a detailed and comprehensive multi-client study of the market in North America, Europe, Japan, China, India, Korea and the rest of the world (ROW) for thin-film batteries and potential future business opportunities.

The objectives include thorough coverage of the underlying economic issues driving the thin-film battery business as well as assessments of new, advanced thin-film batteries that companies are developing. Also covered are legislative pressures for more safety and environmental protection, as well as users expectations for economical thin-film batteries. Another important objective is to provide realistic market data and forecasts for thin-film batteries. This study provides the most thorough and up-to-date assessment that can be found anywhere on the subject. It also provides extensive quantification of the many important facets of market developments in thin-film batteries in the world. This in turn contributes to the determination of what kinds of strategic response companies may adopt in order to compete in this dynamic market.

SCOPE AND FORMAT

The market data contained in this report quantify opportunities for thin-film batteries. In addition to product types, the report also covers many issues concerning the merits and future prospects of the thin-film batteries business, including corporate strategies, information technologies and the means for providing these highly advanced products and service offerings. It also covers in detail the economic and technological issues regarded by many as critical to the industrys current state of change. The report provides a review of the thin-film batteries industry and its structure, as well as the many companies involved in providing these products. The competitive positions of the main players in the thin-film batteries markets and the strategic options they face are also discussed, along with such competitive factors as marketing, distribution and operations.

TO WHOM THE STUDY CATERS

The study will benefit existing manufacturers of handheld electronic consumer products who seek to expand revenues and market opportunities by growing into the new technology of thin-film batteries, which are now positioned to become a preferred solution for many types of energy-storage and power-delivery applications such as RFID tags, SmartCards, medical implantables, wireless chips, sensors and wireless communication devices.

This study provides a technical overview of the thin-film batteries most appropriate for RFID tags, SmartCards, medical implantables, wireless chips, sensors, etc., looking at major technology developments and existing barriers. Audiences for this study include marketing executives, business-unit managers and other decisionmakers in thin-film batteries companies themselves, as well as in companies peripheral to this business.
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